• Jonathan Bloom writes about why we waste food, why it matters and what we can do about it. This is his blog.

Friday Buffet

The real March Madness–Recyclemania–is now under way. I’m especially fond of the “Waste Minimization” category, as that’s kind of the point.

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It’s hard not to enjoy this neat animated illustration of Michael Pollan’s food rules. And I’m sure they used that food featured in the video, right?

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I’m so excited about Halfsies, the restaurant solution for waste and overeating, for getting such great exposure in Forbes!

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This piece on food waste in Spain has a detailed breakdown on waste by sector. Not entirely sure about some of those figures, but it’s encouraging to have a European MP talking about wasted food.

February 17, 2012 | Posted in Friday Buffet, Restaurant | Comments closed

Flash Freezing

Let me get this straight–before last week, all perishable food bought in the UK carried the advice to ‘freeze food on day of purchase?!’ Seriously?

Happily, that is no longer the case at the major British chain Sainsbury’s, as they’ve backed off that uber-cautious advice. With the backing of the waste-reduction crew at WRAP, Sainsbury’s labels now look like this:

Here’s Beth Hart, Sainsbury’s head of product technology for fresh and frozen:

There is no food safety reason why it cannot be frozen at any point prior to the use-by date. As one customer pointed out to me while discussing the previous labelling, ‘How does the product know which day I purchased it on?’

The news has been widely reported, with the story appearing in the BBC (best headline), The Telegraph, and The Guardian. But I wish someone was asking how that silly bit of original advice existed for so long.

Anyway, while we’re on the subject, here are some useful frozen food tips, courtesy of Love Food Hate Waste:

  • Fruit: slice and freeze lemons then use them straight from the fridge in iced drinks. Frozen grapes and strawberries also make novel ice cubes which also taste great.
  • Potatoes: simply parboil (boil for about 5 mins) and freeze them for later. When you want them thaw overnight and roast the next day. Mashed potato also freezes well.
  • Milk: if you know you’re not going to use milk before the date freeze it. and then when you need some milk thaw in the fridge. Plastic containers are okay for freezing milk in, but the milk will expand so pour out a small amount (for a cup of tea for example) to allow for this, shake well before using
  • Cheese: try grating Cheddar cheese before freezing and use as toppings on pizza or shepherd’s pie from frozen. Stilton can be frozen without grating and is just as good as fresh!
  • Leftover roast meat: such as chicken and lamb. Thaw in the fridge and use as normal, in a risotto or curry.
  • Bread: use straight from frozen as toast or make sandwiches for work – by lunchtime they’ll be defrosted. Bang the loaf on the work surface before putting it in the freezer to help the frozen slices come apart more easily.
February 15, 2012 | Posted in International, Supermarket | Comments closed

Teaching About Waste

There’s an increasing attention being paid to waste of all kinds. That’s why a waste curriculum aimed at the most-important-to-reach Americans (from a waste-generating standpoint) is key.

Anyone looking to teach elementary school students about waste should say ‘Thanks, Ohio!’ And then turn to The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Windows on Waste curriculum.

It includes information on food waste, but is by no means focused on it. Turn to page 144 for some handy composting education materials. And the message of waste reduction is included, too.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to say ‘YIMBY!’ (a positive take on NIMBY, covered in the curriculum).

February 13, 2012 | Posted in School, Waste Stream | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

Beauty is only skin deep: There may just be an “Ugly” food company forming in the UK to sell items that don’t look beautiful but taste great.

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New again: Chefs turning scraps into a second act. This works on so many levels.

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Etiquette sure can prompt food waste. Here’s a neat piece on creating a leftovers-tolerant culture in Europe.

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Waste Not Want Not isn’t just a saying. It’s also a Florida food rescue group feeding the hungry well.

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Finally, here’s a review of the food waste documentary Taste the Waste. The German film should be making its way Stateside soon enough.

February 10, 2012 | Posted in Friday Buffet, International, Life to Leftovers | Comments closed

Clear Skies for Airport Food Recovery?

If you’ve spent any late night time at the airport, chances are you’ve wondered what happened to all that wrapped, prepared food. Unfortunately, it’s usually tossed.

But that is changing at Tampa International Airport, where food vendor HMS Host is donating these packaged eats like sandwiches and those yummy yet incredibly pricey yogurt parfaits to a local food rescue group and Feeding America.

So now, instead of filling the dumpster, HMS Host is feeding children and hungry people with these foods that they don’t sell if they’re older than 24 hours. Yep, these prepared goods have a shelf life of a day!

This ‘graf hints at why we produce so much food waste each day:

HMS Host vendors typically produce 10 to 15 percent more foods than they expect to sell. Travelers want these prepackaged foods to be fresh, which is why they are never older than 24 hours.

But kudos to HMS Host for taking action. In addition to donating food, they’re also helping the South Florida Botanical Gardens make use of their coffee grounds and recycling most other items.

Not only is HMS Host doing the right thing–ethically and environmentally– they’re saving plenty of money on their waste bill by reducing what they discard.

Best news of all–airport food donation has a real chance to spread, as HMS runs food operations at many airports. Plans are in the works for Las Vegas, Honolulu and Seattle and probably more.

So next time you’re flying, ask your sandwich vendor, ‘Are you gonna donate that?’

February 8, 2012 | Posted in Airline, Food Recovery | Comments closed

What’s In Your Trash?

I’m a little unclear on why an insurance company commissioned this awesome trash composition infographic, but I’m not complaining. In fact, I think it’s a fabulous way to convey how wasteful we are with all of our resources. And, yeah, I’m a sucker for a good infographic.

Two quick notes:
–The 13.9% stat is a bit misleading. When you factor in recycling of all materials, food scraps make up 20.5% of what ends up in the landfill (see table 11).

–Waste incineration has its drawbacks, too.

February 6, 2012 | Posted in Waste Stream | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

Anyone looking to rescue some food should check out this awesome produce recovery guide. Thanks to Rotary First Harvest for putting out the uber-useful guide.

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UCSB has begun a student-led composting project. The best part is that students are the ones doing the sorting. While that means a lower food waste capture rate than when staff do the sorting, it ups the awareness quotient!

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Saving money by composting? A Montana food bank is doing just that by composting their own waste. Would that composting was always less expensive than using the landfill!

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Uh oh, some bad news from the UK: Grocers failed to meet their self-imposed food waste reduction goals. The British Retail Consortium announced the news in their progress report.

February 3, 2012 | Posted in College, Composting, Food Recovery, International, Supermarket | Comments closed

Cap’n Cattle Feed

Forget grass-fed beef, how about Cap’n Crunch-fed?

An article in Harvest reports that, often, more than half of cattle feed comes from food manufacturing excess. The mix of scraps and seconds that used to be the domain of hogs, is becoming increasingly common with cattle.

My first thought: what a nice use of excess materials that keeps food from going to the landfill. My second: What kind of stuff are we talking about?

Jeff Clausen manages 3,000 cattle in two feedlots outside of Omaha, Neb. He says the majority of his cattle’s feed is bakery byproduct – bread, dough and pastries that get burned or misformulated.

Hmm…But they also use Quaker Oats byproduct, which feels a little better. But as we keep reading, we learn that:

Even candy manufacturers have seconds. For example, the Hershey Company sells their candy that isn’t up to snuff for humans to the ag company Cargill, for use in livestock feed.

Rest assured, though–Twizzlers aren’t included, as they’re too gummy. Just a guess, but feeding excess candy, pastries, and sugary cereal (in addition to below-grade soybean oil) to livestock must have side effects.

I could be wrong, but I’m guessing it isn’t healthy for cattle to consume high amounts of sugar.  A quick web search reveals that there is such a thing as bovine diabetes. Going one step further, do those of us who eat beef want to consume meat of unhealthy or sugar-addled animals?

February 1, 2012 | Posted in Processing Plants, Waste Stream | Comments closed

Monday Leftovers

South Koreans will soon be getting used to weight-based waste bins that charge residents for the amount of food waste they create. Swipe cards will help the machines keep track of who wastes what. It’s the latest waste-reduction step for a nation without much room. (They’ve already banned food from landfills.)

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Students at Missouri are apparently cool with trayless dining. Also–there’s a student paper called The Maneater?!

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A UK restaurant was caught dumping food waste into their neighbor’s dumpster. Oops.

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Unilever is hoping to help food service companies Wise up on Waste.

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Let me know if I missed anything else in the food waste world late last week–I was busy welcoming my second child into the world (while trying hard not to notice the abundant hospital food waste)!

January 30, 2012 | Posted in College, Friday Buffet, International, Trayless | Comments closed

Mutato Project

I love produce that has…character. You know, the stuff that looks–pick one–quirky, ugly or odd. When I find especially striking examples, I do this:

Uli Westphal is a German photographer who also enjoys “non-standard fruits, roots and vegetables.” Except when he finds interesting examples, being a professional photographer, he does this:

What could be better than creating beautiful art out of nature’s oddities? Not much. That’s why I’m excited that Uli has agreed to exhibit some of the fabulous images from his Mutato Project in my site’s Gallery.

Enjoy your browsing, and remember–amazingly–the “mutatoes” pictured are all actual, bona fide food items.

January 25, 2012 | Posted in Farm, International | Comments closed
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